Secretary Whitley Meets With Public Officials, Community Leaders During Rio Grande Valley Engagement Tour

February 22, 2019
Contact: Sam Taylor

Secretary Whitley posing with high school faculty and students
(Secretary Whitley visits with students and faculty
at Veterans Memorial Early College High School in
Brownsville, Texas. Office of the Texas Secretary of
State, 2/21/2019)

Secretary Whitley sitting in a conference room with Mexican Consul General, Carlos Cue Vega and staff
(Secretary Whitley meets with Carlos Cue Vega,
Consul General of Mexico in Brownsville. Office of
the Texas Secretary of State, 2/21/2019)

Secretary Whitley standing at the Anzalduas International Bridge along with other officials
(Secretary Whitley visits the Anzalduas International
Bridge in McAllen. Office of the Texas Secretary of
State, 2/22/2019).

EDINBURG – Texas Secretary of State David Whitley visited the Rio Grande Valley this week to meet with public officials, economic development organizations, and community leaders in order to strengthen relationships with local stakeholders throughout the border region. In his capacity as the Governor's liaison for Texas Border and Mexican Affairs, Secretary Whitley visited with key entities impacted by cross-border trade between Texas and Mexico and received briefings on a wide range of issues critical to the border region, including transportation, infrastructure, and workforce development. Additionally, in his capacity as Chief Election Officer, Secretary Whitley met with local Election Administrators and education leaders to discuss strategies for increasing voter registration and voter turnout in the Rio Grande Valley, particularly among the youngest generation of Texas voters.

"This week's visit to the Rio Grande Valley was an incredible opportunity to engage with local leaders who work every day to bring prosperity to the Texans they serve," Secretary Whitley said. "I was deeply honored to meet with trade, economic development, education, and election leaders who shared their years of knowledge and expertise to assist my office in prioritizing the issues that matter most to the border region. Whether it is empowering more Texans to make their voices heard in our elections or helping facilitate robust trade and economic growth, I am committed to working closely with leaders throughout the Rio Grande Valley to help accomplish their goals as a region and further strengthen the Lone Star State."

Secretary Whitley began his engagement tour on Thursday by visiting with students and faculty at Veterans Memorial Early College High School in Brownsville to learn more about the school's civic engagement programs and voter registration activities for their eligible students. Secretary Whitley commended Veterans Memorial ECHS Principal Dr. Linda Gallegos and Brownsville ISD officials for their outstanding work to ensure that their eligible students are registered to vote.

Next, Secretary Whitley visited the Cameron County Department of Elections and Voter Registration and met with Elections Administrator Remi Garza to discuss the administration of elections and voter registration. Secretary Whitley received valuable feedback on how to continue to improve collaboration between the Secretary of State's office and election officials across the State of Texas, and praised Garza for his ongoing commitment to serving the voters of Cameron County.

Secretary Whitley then participated in a roundtable discussion with a group of public officials and Cameron County economic development leaders hosted by the Greater Brownsville Incentives Corporation (GBIC). The group, which included Brownsville Mayor Tony Martinez and GBIC Executive Director & CEO Mario Lozoya, discussed the current business climate along the Texas-Mexico border and strategies for increasing regional economic development cooperation within the Rio Grande Valley to attract investment and create jobs.

Following Thursday morning's meetings, Secretary Whitley visited Cameron County International Bridge System Executive Director Josue Garcia and Cameron County Judge Eddie Treviño to receive a briefing on developments related to transportation infrastructure and cross-border trade with the neighboring Mexican state of Tamaulipas. Secretary Whitley expressed his optimism that cross-border infrastructure would continue to develop and facilitate increased trade between Texas and Mexico, and thanked Garcia for his outstanding service on the Border Trade Advisory Committee (BTAC), on which Secretary Whitley serves as Chair.

Secretary Whitley then visited Carlos Cue Vega, Consul General of Mexico in Brownsville, to discuss diplomatic relations and cross-border commerce between Texas and Mexico. Secretary Whitley expressed his desire to continue to strengthen the historic friendship between Texas and Mexico and to seek opportunities to improve coordination and communication between public officials on both sides of the border for the benefit of the entire region.

Secretary Whitley concluded the first day of the trip by touring the Port of Brownsville with Port Director and CEO Eduardo Campirano, who briefed the Secretary on the extensive economic impact of the port on the Texas economy, as well as potential opportunities for expansion and growth. The Port of Brownsville is the second largest Foreign Trade Zone (FTZ) for exports in the United States, producing an economic impact of more than $3 billion annually and supporting more than 44,000 jobs in the State of Texas.

Secretary Whitley began the second day of his trip by touring the Pharr-Reynosa International Bridge before participating in a discussion hosted by the RGV Partnership and the Pharr Economic Development Corporation  about the future of infrastructure projects in Hidalgo County and local leaders' participation in BTAC. The group identified priorities for facilitating cross-border trade and Secretary Whitley offered his full commitment to serving as a liaison between border stakeholders and state leaders in Austin.

Secretary Whitley became the first Texas Secretary of State to visit the Anzalduas International Bridge in McAllen, receiving a briefing on trade and infrastructure developments from officials with the City of McAllen, City of Mission, City of Hidalgo, and the Mexican State of Tamaulipas. Following the briefing, Secretary Whitley visited both sides of the international port of entry to get a first-hand look at the customs and logistics processes in place at Anzalduas.

Secretary Whitley made his final stop at the Hidalgo County Elections Department in Edinburg to visit with the Assistant Director of Elections Hilda Salinas and her voter registration staff. Secretary Whitley expressed his deep appreciation for the ongoing work of Hidalgo County election officials and offered the Texas Secretary of State as a resource for any assistance needed.

Secretary Whitley will conclude his engagement tour by delivering the keynote address at the 122nd Annual Washington's Birthday Celebration on Saturday, February 23rd at the Juárez–Lincoln International Bridge in Laredo, Texas. The annual event recognizes deep friendship between the the United States and Mexico, culminating in a parade that blends traditions from Texas and Mexico celebrating the rich culture and history of South Texas.